Thursday 11 October 2007

A cuppa at Parliament

I popped into Parliament House yesterday afternoon to catch up with our MP for Barron River, Steve Wettenhall.
Steve took over from Lesley Clark last year, following her early departure from politics.
He took a break from the chamber whilst they were debating embryonic stem cell research bill.
I watched an impassioned speech from Lawrence Springboard following which the Parliament voted in favour of controversial amendments that will allow human embryos to be cloned for medical research, 48 for and 34 against, in a conscience vote.

Stem Cell research has been hotly debated, and passed, by the Federal Government. The US Congress, under Bush, blocked a similar move.
Stem cells and the use of embryos in research are technically complex areas that raise fundamental ethical, spiritual and cultural questions.
This is a challenging area as Governments have a responsibility to provide robust safeguards against the potential misuse of these technologies. However I'm a believer that allowing flexibility and innovation so that our society can benefit from the application of this important and innovative area of research and potential findings.
Steve kindly gave me some time and showed me upstairs to the old disused upper house chamber, the Legislative Council Chamber.
Posing for his photo, he looked like someone that didn't want to be blogged, but blogged his is. The Upper House was disestablished in 1922, whereas New Zealand's ceased in 1952.
Just as I was leaving Parliament, I greeting a flustered Mike Berwick, with his mobile glued to his ear. I overheard something about chopping down some Daintree for a MacDonalds...or something.
It was an interesting day in BrisVegas.


Anonymous said...

Wettenhall is as useless as O'Brien. NO wonder he'd take a break during the debate of one of the most important topics of the 21st century.

What a useless representative he is for our community. What a pig.

Anonymous said...

what am intelligent, well thought out and reasoned opinon you anon...

Anonymous said...

So 'anon said', you think you could do a better job? Why don't you have a go and see if anyone would vote for you. By the way, don't you take breaks at your job (if you have one)?

Anonymous said...

Steve Wettenhall is not a pig, anon.

Such comparisons rarely elucidate and usually say more about the accuser's animal phobias than anything else.

From my limited knowledge, Steve is a nice man, walking a tightrope.

When someone is nominated as candidate by a major political party - especially in a constituency held by that party - policy baggage comes with the job. He/she can change some of the policy over time, but the party expects candidates to buckle down and help sell the party agenda as a whole package - at least in the public arena.

That's the tightrope Steve in on.

He chose it. He gets paid to do it. I have no special sympathy for him – and a general preference for Independents unencumbered by party policy, in the Ted Mack or Peter Andren mold - but it’s useful to recognize the role and its constraints.

However, there is an expectation that over time local members - even representatives of political parties - play a role in shifting policy in a positive direction.

There are two ways of falling off a tightrope. The first is to wobble way off-center, like a party rebel. The second is to treat the rope like a plank and show mo subtlety at all, rigidly following the party line of the moment.

It remains to be seen whether Steve walks his tightrope successfully.

He inherited an electorate in which official party policy was heading in a disastrous direction.

Now, following Warren Pitt's recent comments on the viability of the proposed billion dollar Kuranda Range 4-Lane Highway, there is a real opportunity for Steve to help lead a more enlightened policy debate on the future of northern Cairns and the adjoining Tablelands around Kuranda.

If he does this, Steve can become a popular long-term member.

On the other hand, if Steve blows this chance to promote rational debate about planning for long term sustainability in FNQ, I doubt he’ll survive long in Parliament. Nor will he deserve to do so.

The Kuranda Range Highway proposal – and its intended flow-on developments - is the key.

Blind Freddie can see that building a smaller version of Cairns on the Tablelands, connected to the parent city by a 4-Lane Highway, is conducive to neither emission reductions nor long-term sustainability.

Steve has known about the issue of climate change for years.

He has lived in Kuranda and knows the rural charm and high biodiversity of the area.

He can exercise his influence now to help conserve this World Class heritage along with the lucrative tourist industry that it attracts.

I hope he does.

If not, he could do a lot more damage to this area and its inhabitants – human and non-human - than pigs have ever done.

Anonymous said...

Wettenhall has no influence on anything, he was picked to keep his mouth shut. Just like Jason O'brien and worthless Desley Boyle. They are only interested in collecting a big government paycheque - clearly Queensland's "representative government" system works only for those in the southeast corner.

Anonymous said...

Said it perfect

Anonymous said...

Good to see Steve taking time out to talk to a constituent - even though it's a bit hard to get a word in edgeways with Manic Mike on the move.
And he would have said his bit on the debate for sure, what a mean and angry little spirit you are "anon".